Whiskey Tree

Whiskey Tree
by Robert Morgan

Tree on the mountainside, hickory
or ash, the bottle bush, oak
sapling stronger than a man and
high above the valley road, back
above the branchhead at the end
of the haul road where the boys
come to loaf on Fridays after
quitting time, away from children,
disapproving wives. They sit on
the high ground under the protecting
limbs and watch the stars appear through
the washy lens of liquor, yell
and laugh and sing to the radio
in someone’s truck, or look into
the dark and end up weeping.
But always tying, fixing with
a string or wire, lace or bandaid
their empties to the limbs above,
climbing into the forks to stick
a pint or jug on the end of
a twig, until the sapling seems
some Christmas tree in sunlight,
or starlight, bearing its yield of
bulbs that pull like enormous tears
as the tree is stunted, bent and
burdened under its cold harvest,
a tree of the knowledge of
forgetfulness, radiant with
memory on a winter morning,
as crows avoid the shining bush.

     Sigodlin Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
     Wesleyan Press, 1990

Whiskey Tree